Campaign Raising Awareness of Student Housing Fire Hazards

A recent NFPA report said fires are more common between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and on weekends, and September and October are the peak months for fires in dormitories.

NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety have started a campaign that aims to raise students' awareness of fire hazards in on- and off-campus housing during September and October. September is Campus Fire Safety Month, hence the timing of their national Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign.

A recent NFPA report, "Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks," found that between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 4,100 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties. About seven in 10 (72 percent) of fires in those properties began in a kitchen or cooking area, accounting for 44 percent of civilian injuries and 14 percent of direct property damage.

According to NFPA, the report also said fires are more common between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and on weekends, and September and October were the peak months for fires in dormitories.

"As college students settle into housing in dorms and off-campus apartments, it’s important they review fire safety tips to learn how to prevent fires, check smoke alarms, and prepare escape plans," said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for NFPA. "Staying in the kitchen when cooking, using flameless candles, and not overloading electrical outlets and power strips are all vital steps to reducing injuries and loss of life."

The campaign provides resources such as videos, infographics, checklists, and posters for use by students, parents, and fire safety educators.

Michael J. Swain, president of The Center for Campus Fire Safety, said encouraging students to share this information with their peers will send a strong fire safety message that will be remembered. "With the beginning of the school year, The Center continues its mission to make campuses and off-campus housing safer for students," he said.

NFPA reported that, during the 2016/2017 school year, two students lost their lives in off-campus housing, and from 2000 through mid-August 2017, The Center reported 128 students died in 91 fires on college campuses, in Greek housing, or in privately owned off-campus housing within three miles of the campus. Of those 91 fires, 78 occurred in off-campus housing.

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